Tag: report

Report card: Jacinda Ardern’s government graded on the past three years | World news

When Jacinda Ardern took over leadership of New Zealand’s Labour party less than two months before the 2017 election she had the country’s social woes firmly in her sights, blaming nine years of a National party-led government for child poverty rates and housing unaffordability. Ardern promised a government of transformation, pledging to do better on the climate crisis, tackle mental health and suicide rates, and build tens of thousands of new homes.

Her ability to respond in a crisis – such as the Christchurch terrorist attack in March 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption at Whakaari, and Covid-19 – is well-documented and has drawn global praise. But domestically, she has had a political coalition as well as a pandemic to manage: Labour has been in power along with the Greens and New Zealand First.

She promised a strong and empathetic government and a “fairer, better New Zealand”. How has her government performed on its promises of sweeping change? The Guardian asked two experts or political commentators in each field for their assessments.

The environment

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu), a climate justice advocate, and co-founder of social impact agency Activate

Grade: C+

Her introduction was strong with Ardern proclaiming climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, but unfortunately, getting climate change on the agenda is not the same as getting outcomes. The Green party seems to be the one diligent student dragging the group across the finishing line with an ambitiously named but otherwise lacklustre Zero Carbon Act; and the government as a whole routinely ignores those communities actually at the frontline of climate and environmental destruction in favour of keeping in with the agricultural and business sectors. The one thing they have going for them is that the previous National government didn’t even turn up to class.

David Cormack, a former head of policy and communications for the Green party and co-founder of a public relations firm

Grade: B-

Passing the zero carbon bill and creating a pathway to get agriculture included in the emissions trading scheme are successes that should be praised; however the compromises with National, the centre-right opposition party, that resulted in a watered down bill has now been shown to be pointless, with National’s leader Judith Collins vowing to repeal parts of it. They should’ve just gone for it. Transport emissions are still a massive work in progress.

The Cosseys Dam in the Hunua Ranges

Auckland has suffered the worst reported drought in a quarter of a century. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images


Shamubeel Eaqub, a housing economist with Sense Partners

Grade: B

Housing affordability worsened: median house price has risen from 6.3 times the median household income at the last election to 6.9 now. During the previous nine years (under National) it rose from 5.5 to 6.3. The nine years before that (under Labour) it went from 3.9 to 5.5. The government did some long-term things, like building more state houses and delivering reforms on rental rules, and some ineffective things like a ban on foreign buyers. They get an F for their

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Royal Society report urges mental-health funding hikes

A new Royal Society of Canada report urges governments to prioritize keeping schools open and be prepared with more mental-health support for Canadians if a spike in COVID-19 cases leads to another lockdown.

The wide-ranging report also calls for a larger chunk of health dollars to go toward mental-health care, as well as increased public funding for psychotherapy, with a particular focus on virtual care to improve access in more remote parts of the country.

To prepare for the next pandemic or national emergency, the report recommends that Ottawa create a national task force to study how to prevent mental illness and boost resilience.

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“COVID-19 brings with it a triple threat,” write the authors, a national task force of health care and academic experts. The social and economic consequences of the pandemic have meant that just as the population’s need for help with mental illness and substance abuse has grown, laid-off workers have lost the employee benefits that help cover those treatments. Access to public care was also reduced when hospitals were forced to shut down services.

The negative consequences of the pandemic have fallen heaviest on poor and marginalized Canadians, the authors point out. They make the case for better data collection to track how the system is doing, especially in delivering care to those groups, and for more mental health care programs designed and led by Indigenous Canadians.

“COVID-19 is not just an illness,” the reports states. “It also intensifies social ills that have long created health inequities.”

The report echoes recommendations that mental-health experts made even before the pandemic led to a spike in self-reported anxiety and depression among Canadians.

“We hope it adds to the chorus,” said the task-force chair, psychologist Patrick McGrath, a researcher at Dalhousie University. “Mental health plays an essential role in our response to the pandemic now and going forward.”

Mental-health advocates have long pushed for more coverage for talk therapy, so that Canadians without insurance through their employer do not have to pay out of pocket for an evidence-based treatment that other countries, such as Britain, have made standard first-step care for the most common mental illnesses – depression and anxiety.

Before COVID-19 shut down much of the country, waits-list to see a psychiatrist or to receive specialized treatment in the public system, especially for children and youth, could extend well beyond a year. Families struggled to get assistance in a confusing, fragmented system. Psychiatrists and family doctors often spoke about the difficulty of finding help for their patients, and a lack of standards in areas such as the treatment for youth who visit emergency departments after a suicide attempt or incident of self harm. As opposed to a stepped care model that delivers the right level of help based on need, the current system and its inefficiencies have meant that some people receive too much care, while those most in need often received too little, critics said.

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The Royal Society report highlights

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Ex-Chinese Government Official Was In Charge Of TikTok’s Content Moderation Policies, Report Says


A former Chinese government official was in charge of making decisions on what content should be allowed on TikTok, the Financial Times reported in a development that raises questions about the company’s previous claim that the Chinese government had no influence over its operations.

Key Facts

Cai Zheng, who worked at the Chinese Embassy in Tehran from 2013 to 2018, ran the global content policy team at TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance until earlier this year when the company moved to allow local operations in its biggest countries to make content removal decisions themselves.

According to a now-altered LinkedIn profile, Cai joined ByteDance in 2018, when the company was under scrutiny from the Chinese government over content shared on the company’s news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao.

Cai worked with ByteDance’s global trust and safety team in Beijing to form guidelines on what content was acceptable on TikTok and the company’s other international apps including Helo and Vigo Video, according to the FT report.

During Cai’s stint, TikTok was accused of removing videos critical of the Chinese government including banning an American teenager who used makeup tutorials to inform her viewers about the mass imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.

The Trump administration has called TikTok a security threat, repeatedly accusing the app of being influenced by the Chinese government, an allegation that TikTok and ByteDance have denied.

Crucial Quote

TikTok told FT that “Cai Zheng was not involved in developing the policies,” and these content policies predated him. “He worked with our growing regional and local teams on localisation of our early content policies,” the company added. Forbes has reached out to TikTok for a comment.

Key Background

Following the threat of a ban in the U.S., last month, TikTok announced that  Oracle and Walmart have agreed to acquire a 20% stake in TikTok’s global business as part of a pre-IPO financing round. As part of this deal, Oracle agreed to acquire 12.5% of the video-sharing platform, while Walmart agreed to hold a 7.5% stake. This deal, which initially had Trump’s “blessing”, was thrown into peril after ByteDance claimed that it would still retain control of TikTok while Oracle and Walmart will serve as minority partners. Both Trump and Oracle then pushed back against this claim with the president stating that he won’t allow the deal unless TikTok’s operations are “ totally controlled” by a U.S. entity like Oracle. Since then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that TikTok must meet all U.S. security requirements in any deal it makes with Oracle — which will include storing code in the U.S. — or it will be forced to shut down. The Trump administration had ordered the removal of the app from smartphone app stores but the move was put on hold by a judge, who ruled in favor of TikTok, stating that Trump’s TikTok ban likely overstepped

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Judge halts Trump and Barr law enforcement report, citing commission’s lack of diversity

A federal judge’s ruling on Thursday stopped next month’s expected release of a report from a presidential commission created to study American law enforcement. Judge John Bates ruled that the commission, comprised solely of current and former law enforcement officials, lacked the diversity necessary to address issues plaguing policing. 

None of the 18 commissioners appointed to “study a broad range of issues regarding law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” and then make recommendations to the president through the report, have any background in “criminal defense, civil rights, or community organization,” Bates noted in his decision. 

“Especially in 2020,” Bates wrote, “when racial justice and civil rights issues involving law enforcement have erupted across the nation, one may legitimately question whether it is sound policy to have a group with little diversity of experience examine, behind closed doors, the sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today.”

The court ruled in favor of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which brought a lawsuit against both the commission and Attorney General William Barr. LDF argued that the government had violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires transparency and “fairly balanced” membership on advisory committees. LDF alleged that it was “denied access to representation on the Commission,” by the government, and did not have an opportunity to formally apply for Commission membership.

Bates concluded that the government did not satisfy the obligations of “forming and conducting a commission in 2020 to examine the sensitive and important issues affecting American law enforcement and the communities they serve.” The court thereby ordered that “Commission proceedings be halted — and no work product released — until the requirements of FACA are satisfied.”

“Any federal committee designed to make recommendations about law enforcement must include representation from people and communities impacted by police violence, civil rights organizations, the criminal defense bar, and other stakeholders,” Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, said in a statement following Bates’ decision. 

Barr established the “Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice” in January, following an October executive order from President Trump. 

Months later, George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, sparking a mass call for reform. Over the following three months, from May 26 to August 31, police continued to kill Black men and women at disproportionate rates. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Black people make up roughly 13.4% of the U.S. population — but they accounted for about 20% of people killed by police during that time period. 

In announcing the commission in January, Barr wrote that the “most troubling” issue facing police is the “continued lack of trust and respect for law enforcement that persists in many communities.” Adding, “So while it is important that we always strive to better our police, police also deserve better from us. Nobody wins when law enforcement do not have the trust of the people they protect.”

Barr noted that

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Trump Law Enforcement Commission Report Blocked by U.S. Judge

(Bloomberg) — A U.S. judge blocked a federal commission from releasing a final report on ways to improve policing, faulting the panel for doing its work behind closed doors and failing to include people with diverse views.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr created the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice last year. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington ruled the panel had violated the law, in part because it was comprised entirely of current and former law enforcement officials.

The commission failed to obey a mandate of the Federal Advisory Committee Act that such groups be “fairly balanced” in the viewpoints represented and that they conduct meetings that are open to the public. The decision is a win for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, which filed the suit challenging it.

“Especially in 2020, when racial justice and civil rights issues involving law enforcement have erupted across the nation, one may legitimately question whether it is sound policy to have a group with little diversity of experience examine, behind closed doors, the sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today,” Bates said.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

The case is NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, 20-cv-01132, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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In Partnership with Design Leaders Cosentino, Benjamin Moore and Emerald, Research Demonstrates the Effects of COVID-19 on Design Professionals and Spaces

Reported Level of Impact
Reported Level of Impact
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Reported Business Preparedness
Reported Business Preparedness

Washington, D.C., Oct. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As all industries tackle the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has sought to understand the resiliency of the design industry and profession through times of uncertainty. The 2020 ASID Interior Design Resiliency Report has released the results from its first phase, conducted during the summer of 2020 in partnership with Cosentino, Benjamin Moore and Emerald to further investigate interior design resilience by examining the impact of the pandemic, the response from the interior design community and the changes necessary in design to move forward. 

“In their day-to-day work, design professionals are creative problem-solvers who constantly strive to provide a positive, impactful experience,” explains ASID Director, Research and Knowledge Management Susan Chung, Ph.D. “We hope that in addition to helping us understand the changes and challenges that face the industry, this Resiliency Report demonstrates the value of design and contributions design professionals can make to help lead us into a safer and healthier world.”

Prior to this study, ASID had been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the interior design community through pulse surveys, finding signs of resilience among the industry and profession. The Resiliency Report takes a deeper dive by examining attributes of interior design professionals, their experiences during the pandemic and expected changes in the design of the built environment. The study not only identifies issues interior design businesses and professionals have faced during this major disruption, but also tracks changes implemented in the industry, tests the viability of industry-wide changes and showcases the value of design. The study will be conducted in multiple phases, with this being the first, to better understand long-term resilience.

When surveying designers and other industry respondents, the study focused on areas including impact, response, changes in design and ways to build health and exercise resilience in the profession. Key findings include:


Regardless of age, gender, status, location, firm or experience, everyone has been affected by COVID-19. All respondents reported some level of impact on at least one of the five areas: life in general, country/city, firm, interior design industry/business and interior design education. Although general concern due to the impact of COVID-19 eased somewhat since its peak (March-April 2020), the majority of the interior design community still expresses high concerns (as measured in July 2020).

Impact is perceived as a collective and shared experience, and it is interconnected with personal and professional lives. Respondents’ lives are multifaceted and intricately woven with the external and larger society, and their social well-being was lowest during this time of physical distancing. 73 percent reported experiencing burnout in some frequency, having a major impact on personal well-being. 


The design industry made necessary changes and adjustments, specifically focused on working remotely, technology,

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Judge rules federal law enforcement commission violates law, orders work stopped as attorney general prepares to issue report

The ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington came in response to a lawsuit from the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, which sought an injunction against the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice for violating laws on how federal advisory committees must work. Bates did not issue an injunction, but ordered the commission to change its membership and comply with other aspects of the law.

“Especially in 2020,” Bates wrote, “when racial justice and civil rights issues involving law enforcement have erupted across the nation, one may legitimately question whether it is sound policy to have a group with little diversity of experience examine, behind closed doors, the sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today.”

The 18 member commission was composed entirely of state and federal law enforcement officials, with no one from the civil rights, criminal defense, social work, religious or academic fields. Members were sworn in on Jan. 22, and then heard months of testimony by teleconference from experts in a variety of police, prosecutorial and social fields. The commission also formed 15 working groups, with more than 100 members, to draft sections of the report focusing on topics such as “Reduction of Crime,” “Respect for Law Enforcement,” “Data and Reporting” and “Homeland Security.”

The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that a committee’s membership be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed,” so that its recommendations “will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority.” The working groups were also largely tied to policing, with only five of the 112 members not from law enforcement. After the suit was filed, the speakers who testified before the commission were more diverse in professional background.

Police groups lobbied Congress for years to form a commission that would take a comprehensive look at improving American policing, as a similar panel did in the 1960s, to devise new ways to fight crime and use technology to improve policing. When various bills stalled in Congress, Trump signed an executive order last October creating the new group, with the president acknowledging the assistance of the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police in launching the project.

The law also requires that advisory committee meetings be open to the public, with notice posted in the Federal Register, along with a charter for the committee. The commission did not post a charter or meeting notices in the register, but did send out press releases announcing the virtual meetings as well as posting transcripts and recordings of the meetings. Reporters and others could dial in and listen to the teleconferences. A meeting which Barr held in June with the commission, on the same day Trump signed an executive order on police reform, was not announced and the Justice Department declined to release a transcript or recording.

Trump’s order called for the commission to submit its report and recommendations

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association – Government funded through Dec. 11 after Trump’s late-night bill signing


Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association


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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Senate panel votes to subpoena Twitter, Facebook, Google CEOs |  ‘Trump fatigue’ spells trouble |  Senate GOP frustrated after Tuesday’s debate |  Trump signs funding bill after short lapse | NYC becomes first big city to reopen all schools |  Five cursing parrots separated



A teeny lapse in government funding:



Via The Hill’s Niv ElisPresident TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE signed the government funding bill, shortly after midnight, to avert a government shutdown. https://bit.ly/3jj8ujm

Meaning: There was a very brief lapse in government funding.

What that meant for agencies: “The White House told agencies not to shut down despite the fact that legal funding ran out at midnight because Trump was expected to sign it quickly upon his return, as Politico first reported.”

Why it was signed after midnight: “Trump did not sign the bill, which passed in the House last week and in the Senate on Wednesday, until after returning from a rally in Minnesota after midnight.”  

How long the bill extends government funding: Until Dec. 11

It’s Thursday. It is officially October! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to [email protected] — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Trump proposes a low refugee cap:

President Trump is proposing that only 15,000 refugees be allowed to resettle in the U.S. in the next fiscal year, marking an historic low of admission for some of the world’s most vulnerable peoples.” https://bit.ly/3l8u4HP




Aviation Workers Keep U.S. Safe, Connected



Aviation accounts for five percent of the nation’s GDP, supporting millions of jobs across U.S. industries, including manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, engineering and national defense. Learn more.




You get a subpoena! And you get a subpoena! Subpoenas all around!:

The Senate Commerce Committee voted to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter. https://bit.ly/36p0j1m 

Why: “[Committee Chairman Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerRestaurants brace for long COVID-19 winter The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance

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Huawei Has Failed To Resolve Security Flaws, U.K. Government Report Says


Huawei has failed to adequately resolve security flaws in the equipment used by the U.K. telecom networks, the British government’s cyber-spy agency said in an official report released a few months after the Chinese telecom equipment-maker was barred from the country’s 5G mobile networks over security concerns.

Key Facts

The report, prepared by a U.K. government board led by a member of the cyber-intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) found that there had been no evidence that the Chinese firm has made a significant shift on the matter, the BBC reported.

The report added that while some improvements were made by Huawei, the board could only provide “limited assurance that all risks to UK national security” could be mitigated in the long-term.

The U.K. government had initiated a review of Huawei’s network equipment after the U.S. government issued sanctions against the company in May restricting it from sourcing key components from American suppliers.

Following the sanctions, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre had determined that Huawei’s equipment could no longer be considered safe as it had to rely on non-US components.

The Trump administration has cracked down on Chinese tech firms over security concerns within the U.S. while also engaging in diplomatic efforts to pressure European governments to bar Huawei devices from being used in their 5G networks.

Big Number

£2 billion. That is how much the ban on Huawei would cost the U.K government, as the move would result in a delay of up to three years in the country’s planned 5G rollout, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had told the British parliament.


Germany is set to impose new restrictions on telecom equipment providers which would effectively prevent Huawei’s devices from being used in the country’s 5G phone networks, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. An IT security bill that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet plans to pass will introduce a two-stage approval process for equipment makers, including a technical check of individual components along with a political assessment of the manufacturer’s “trustworthiness”. While the bill doesn’t explicitly ban Huawei, the report stated that the added bureaucratic approval process would make it nearly impossible for the Chinese firm to participate in building Germany’s 5G network.

Key Background

In July, the U.K. government announced that it was banning Huawei from its upcoming 5G networks. Under the new law, telecom operators in the country will be forced to stop buying hardware from the Chinese firm by the end of the year and will have until 2027 to strip out existing Huawei devices from their infrastructure. This move was a reversal from a January decision, which allowed limited use of Huawei equipment and angered U.S. President Donald Trump. In June, the Federal Communications Commission had officially designated Huawei as a threat to U.S. communications networks, claiming the company has close ties to the Chinese government and its military services. The agency has barred U.S. telecom

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Letter from Trump taking credit for aid now mandated in government food boxes: report

The Department of Agriculture is mandating that letters from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE be included in millions of food assistance boxes, according to Politico.

The $4 billion Families to Farmers Food Box Program has distributed 100 million boxes already, the USDA announced Wednesday. The program delivers surplus goods that would normally go to restaurants to families experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Organizations tasked with distributing the food have complained that the messaging and campaign-like letters included in the boxes appear to have the goal of boosting the president’s image ahead of the election.

“In my 30 years of doing this work, I’ve never seen something this egregious,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, told Politico. “These are federally purchased boxes.”

The fact that the letters were included in some of the boxes was first reported by Fox News in July. On Wednesday the White House posted a campaign-style video on Twitter touting the food boxes with remarks Trump made in North Carolina in August before a crowd of a few hundred people.

The letter, which comes in English and Spanish, says: “As President, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities. As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America.”

Some lawmakers have argued that the letters could potentially violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials besides the president and vice president from engaging in politics in their official capacity. 

“Using a federal relief program to distribute a self-promoting letter from the President to American families just three months before the presidential election is inappropriate and a violation of federal law,” a group of 49 House Democrats, led by Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeThis week: House returns for pre-election sprint House to tackle funding, marijuana in September Honoring John Lewis’s voting rights legacy MORE of Ohio, wrote in an Aug. 14 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueTrump administration finalizes plan to open up protected areas of Tongass National Forest to logging  Perdue has found the right path in National Forests Democrats seek clarity on payroll tax deferral for federal workers MORE.

“A public health crisis is not an opportunity for the administration to promote its own political interests. Likewise, a federal food assistance program should not be used as a tool for the President to exploit taxpayer dollars for his re-election campaign.”

In a statement to The Hill, the Agriculture Department said “politics has played zero role in the Farmers to Families food box program it is purely about helping farmers and distributors get food to Americans in need during this unprecedented time.” 

The agency noted the letters have been included for

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